Scale of container clean up expands

29 May 2020

The clean up of cargo ship debris along the NSW coastline  has become a  bigger task, with ten more containers confirmed as  missing from the APL England – bringing the total to 50 that went overboard. 

NSW Maritime A/ Executive Director Alex Barrell said crews were working hard between Wollongong and Port Stephens to remove containers and their contents from beaches and bays. 

“We have almost 100 people working on the response, with about 80 out on the ground  manually removing what is washing up.A focus today has been Cronulla and surrounding beaches, Tamarama, Maroubra, Little Bay, Newcastle and Port Stephens,” Mr Barrell said. 

“From an audit carried out in the Port of Brisbane, the number of lost containers has been revised to 50 up from the original 40 reported missing, so we have an even bigger job ahead of us. 

“Twenty-four of these containers were being transported empty and 26 contain a variety of goods.” 

Mr Barrell said three tugboats had been deployed as part of the clean up effort to secure containers and tow them to Broken Bay for removal from the water and safe disposal. 

Five containers which washed ashore at Birdie Beach have now been brought ashore. 

Four containers offshore near Norah Head are in the final stages of being removed from the water after being towed at very low speed overnight. One container was lost during the tow and is now being searched for. 

An additional five containers have washed ashore south of Bateau Bay. 

A tug from Botany that is salvaging  a 40 foot shipping container located off Port Kembla is due to arrive in Broken Bay later this afternoon. 

Mr Barrell said under NSW emergency management arrangements Transport for NSW, led by NSW Maritime, is the lead agency responsible for managing the shoreline clean up. 

“The owners of the APL England and its insurers are cooperating with what is needed in terms of resources to manage this incident,” he said. 

Members of the public who see any suspected debris or shipping containers on NSW beaches should contact the NSW Maritime Info Line 13 12 36 or report via email to

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